P.O. BOX 465
35 GARDEN STREET
MOUNT HOLLY, NJ 08060
TEL: (609) 261-2045 / FAX: (609) 261-2145
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Jericho Ministries is a Christian interdenominational outreach to the imprisoned. It recruits and manages dedicated teams of men and women who faithfully enter 16 correctional facilities of the state of New Jersey. These teams enter county, state and federal facilities touching the lives of approximately 1200 inmates per month. The 60 volunteers of these teams are trained to offer the Gospel message of hope as well as the opportunity and promise of change to the criminal justice community. The volunteers and staff seek to make known, as creatively as possible, the wonderful news of forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration through Jesus Christ.
Two ordained ministers started Jericho in 1987. They sought prayerful guidance to answer God’s call to offer the Gospel to those incarcerated by a system whose high recidivism rate demonstrates the need for an enhancement of rehabilitation procedures. God sent a committed group of men and women to stand in support of them and the Board of Trustees was formed, making Jericho a reality. Jericho started with three aspects of ministry: evangelism, discipleship and aftercare. Volunteers would evangelize through preaching, one-to-one engagement and worship services; offer discipleship through Bible studies; and give aftercare through offering support groups for the families of inmates.
The Jericho Board of Trustees, its staff and volunteers recognized the need to enhance its ministry in New Jersey. To help in its expansion, Jericho brought on a full-time office manager (who herself is a former inmate that has benefited from the work of God through Jericho) and a seminary graduate as a full-time field director. The new staff build upon the foundation of the ministry’s founders by helping develop the new programs, facilitating communication between the teams, recruiting new volunteers, as well as finding new funding sources and partners for the ministry.
THE NEED FOR PRISON MINISTRY
In the State of New Jersey there is a substantial opportunity to help people of faith who are coming out of the criminal justice community. We have come to this conclusion after reviewing the following statistics: In New Jersey there are 28,000 men and women incarcerated of which about 14,000 are released each year. The prison chaplains we have interviewed have estimated that an average of about 30-35% of prison inmates profess Christianity and therefore approximately 4,000 to 5,000 Christian inmates are released each year. Since 41% of New Jersey ex-prisoners currently return to jail, we see the need for our efforts to increase. These estimates demonstrate that there are a large number of people who need help in making the transition from a system of incarceration to a lifestyle of faith and freedom.
We firmly believe that acceptance of the Christian faith ought to lead a person not only to eternal afterlife but also toward a more fulfilling and hopeful life on Earth. Consequently, the Jericho Board, staff and volunteers have felt the call to enhance the ministries in four ways: (a) teaching inmates methods of practical self-enrichment; (b) teaching faith-based communities methods of supporting released inmates who are trying to find positive new roles in society; (c) creating a support group for recently released inmates; and (d) adding to the effort to change the life direction of adjudicated youth who are on their way to spending most of their developing years in the criminal justice system. These enhancements are called (respectively): the Jericho Logos Program, the Joshua Aftercare Program, the Abundant Life Support Group, and the Nexus Partnerships.
The Jericho Logos Program seeks to prepare inmates for entering into a mentoring relationship with a church community upon release by teaching methods of practical application of Biblical Scriptures. In the criminal justice community of New Jersey the Logos Program is new and unique because it teaches methods of translating Biblical scriptures into practical methods of obtaining a healthy body, mind, soul and spirit. In dealing with these four levels of self we address issues such as physical addictions, literacy, overcoming violence, parenting and other challenges that must be addressed if one is to obtain holistic health.
The Joshua Aftercare Program seeks to locate and train spiritually mature mentors who will take a personal interest in a person newly released from jail by encouraging and facilitating the process of churches ministering and supporting such a person. Joshua seeks to support churches that have responded to the call of helping ex-prisoners to build up their faith in God and reduce their likelihood of returning to the kinds of associations and activities that led them to incarceration. Joshua is creating a network of professionals and concerned citizens who can enhance the efforts of a faith-based community that is trying to help a parolee to succeed in today’s world. The Joshua Program will offer informational support and training for interested congregations that covers: (1) the corrections system & environment; (2) parole rules & regulations; (3) mental health issues; and (4) mentorship styles.
The Abundant Life Support Group seeks: (1) to create a safe and comfortable environment where a person speak openly about the struggles of starting over after incarceration through fellowship, encouragement and support from those who have “been there;” (2) to provide information and contacts for organizations offering assistance in areas of need such as education, housing, employment, counseling and medical help.
The Nexus Partnerships try to reach adjudicated youth through Faith-Based Arts and Advocacy. The idea for these partnerships arose out of a desire to have some new preventative programming within the Jericho Mission. Jericho intends to seek out programs who could use two of Jericho’s curricula to enrich the lives of juveniles. The “Faith-Art Curriculum for the Incarcerated” seeks to teach methods of creating faith-based art to express self. The “Young Logos Program” is a variant of the Jericho Logos Program that is directed towards juveniles.